The below message from Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy was sent to alumni of the Graduate School of Social Work and the campus community.
Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,
Last week I wrote with the very sad news that Raymond Albert, Professor of Social Work, Faculty Diversity Liaison, Staff Issues Liaison and Equal Opportunity Officer, passed away on Saturday, August 4. I write now to share more about his distinguished career and to offer recollections from his colleagues and friends.
Professor Albert received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and was elected to Phi Kappa Phi. He held a variety of social service, planning and governmental positions before earning both his M.S.W. and J.D. from the University of Connecticut; he received his doctorate in social work, also from the University of Pennsylvania, in 2011. Raymond served the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research (GSSWSR) and the College in numerous capacities over the course of 38 years. He came to Bryn Mawr as Assistant Professor of Social Work in 1980; he became Associate Professor in 1987 and Professor in 2000.
Raymond was a dedicated teacher who made a significant impact both on the content of the curriculum and in the lives of his students. He developed and taught multiple courses associated with law and social policy, or law and social work. These courses included legal research, law and social advocacy, and race and law in America. He directed six doctoral dissertations and dozens of master’s student projects at GSSWSR and taught political science and Praxis independent study courses in the Undergraduate College. Marcia Martin, who served with Raymond as co-Dean of GSSWSR 2002-2008, said, “no one cared more about the School and its mission than Raymond and no one cared more about the well-being of our students and the integrity of the education we provide.” Similarly, Professor and Dean Emeritus Darlyne Bailey shares, “Students and alumni would tell me how Raymond took the time to get to know them as people. Just two days ago, one of our GSSWSR alumni tearfully said to me, ‘Not everyone ‘got me’ when I was a student many, many years ago....Raymond did.’”
For 20 years Raymond directed the Master's in Law and Social Policy Program—now the certificate program in Social Work and Law. Rick Gaskins, Proskauer Chair in Law and Social Welfare at Brandeis University, writes of his former colleague’s role in this program, “From the day of his job interview, Raymond was able to articulate perfectly what we hoped to achieve in our new program in Law and Social Policy. Using his natural gifts as a teacher, he then helped give that program its unique shape….The results show in the decades of students he inspired.”
An active scholar, Raymond published numerous articles and book chapters. His two books, Law and Social Work Practice: A Legal Systems Approach and Social Welfare Programs: Narratives of Hard Times, address the legal dimensions of social work and social services, particularly for marginalized and vulnerable groups. Most recently, Raymond’s work focused on working class Black males, through an ethnography that examines the nature and consequences of group position and ethnic conflict in urban areas, and on the legal regulation of race in the United States and Cuba.
Raymond also provided leadership to the Bryn Mawr community as a whole through his commitment to institutional diversity and inclusion. In 2004, then President Nancy Vickers created the Diversity Leadership Group (DLG), a distributed model of leadership to promote diversity and inclusion at the College, and asked Raymond to serve as its chair. He was a critical figure in the work of this group since the beginning. Among his many contributions are the development of a faculty education program on improving classroom climate; outreach to African American alumnae to help re-engage them with the College; and leadership of the first campus climate survey in 2009, the results of which prompted his creation of a year-long campus program titled Class Dismissed. As the College’s Equal Opportunity Officer, member of the DLG, and during his time as Faculty Diversity Liaison, Raymond championed an inclusive definition of excellence to advance diversity and inclusion; this framework guides us to this day. President Emeritus Vickers writes that Raymond was “a trusted colleague through many of the most challenging moments of my presidency. As Bryn Mawr worked to become more inclusive, missteps and crises were inevitable. When sure-handed guidance was needed, Raymond was always present; he radiated deep commitment, exceptional wisdom and reassuring calm. His service to Bryn Mawr was invaluable."
Also in 2004, Raymond became the College’s first Staff Issues Liaison. In this role, he helped resolve a wide range of conflicts involving staff, faculty and students, using his superb listening, mediation and problem-solving skills. He was the “go-to” person for assistance in conflict resolution for Human Resources and for multiple provosts and presidents. His gifts are perhaps best captured by Director of Human Resources Marty Mastascusa who witnessed Raymond’s work on several occasions, “While Raymond could not resolve every problem, his skills in mediation invariably made the situation better. No one ever complained that Raymond failed to understand their concerns; he was genuinely empathic and an intense listener. When he spoke, he had a calming impact, and left employees feeling that he had heard their concerns, even if ultimately, the situation causing the conflict could not be changed.”
Raymond’s legacy extends beyond Bryn Mawr’s borders. In 2002 he and Professor of Social Work Jim Martin conceived of the Community Partnership in Action initiative (CPIA), a program between the College and various community-based organizations in nearby Norristown. Through this relationship, hundreds of Bryn Mawr students have had educational field placements and contributed both scholarship and volunteer services to local residents. In addition, Raymond was instrumental in the creation of the GSSWSR’s Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute (NELI). This program connects the School to ascending leaders, as well as executive leadership, in the nonprofit community in and around Philadelphia. Nancy Kirby, former Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at GSSWSR, recalls Raymond’s dedication to service saying, “I remember Raymond as a colleague whose influence, counsel and leadership [were] wide ranging—encompassing not only the GSSWSR and the College, but extending his commitment to the greater Philadelphia area, particularly through his work with the Center for Responsible Funding and the Good Shepherd Mediation Program.” More recently, Raymond devoted time as a volunteer consultant on organizational capacity for Men in Motion in the Community (MIMIC), a North Philadelphia-based agency that engages formerly-incarcerated men of color in delinquency prevention and community development.
The Bryn Mawr community has long-known of Raymond’s remarkable gifts. In recognition of his achievements as a faculty member, Raymond received the McPherson Award in 2000 and the Graduate Faculty Mentorship Award in 2013. This past March I had the immense pleasure and honor of presenting Raymond with the Helen Taft Manning Award, which celebrates outstanding service to Bryn Mawr. This award can be given to an alumna, a faculty member, a staff member or a friend of the College for unusual service and dedication. On this occasion, the College recognized Raymond’s unique contributions to sustaining and building a Bryn Mawr community that values the pursuit of knowledge, a commitment to social justice, and the strength that comes with embracing inclusive excellence. In keeping with this philosophy, we plan to install two benches—one at GSSWSR and one outside Guild Hall—that will be specially designed as “mediation benches.” We imagine a design in which two people are able to face each other for conversation and, we hope, for true listening. In this way, we aspire to honor our esteemed colleague and valued friend.
Raymond was a private person, yet he shared his warmth, contagious smile and hearty laugh with so many of us. “Some of my fondest memories of Raymond are seeing him push his then infant daughter, Alexis, along Airdale Road in a wonderful old-fashioned baby carriage and then, a few years later, driving slowly behind her as she mastered riding a bike…. It was so easy to be with Raymond,” recollects former GSSWSR dean Ruth Mayden. Dean and Professor Janet Shapiro offers this summary of Raymond’s impact on the GSSWSR and Bryn Mawr: “It is hard to imagine a GSSWSR without Raymond's thoughtful and kind presence, as a colleague, mentor and friend to so many faculty, staff and students. In his many roles, at the GSSWSR and at the College, Raymond has provided leadership to how we think about diversity and inclusion, and to how we understand constructive ways to work through challenges and conflict. Raymond led the development of the GSSWSR focus on law and social work and shared this expertise in undergraduate courses as well, reflecting his depth of commitment to the intersection of law and the social and economic development of community life. Perhaps most of all, Raymond provided mentorship to generations of students, faculty and colleagues, encouraging each person to define for themselves how to live into the mission of the GSSWSR and the broader college environment. We will miss him tremendously, but will always remember, and hope to build on, his many contributions.”
Raymond is survived by his wife, Theresa, and their daughter, Alexis. There will be a memorial mass service on Tuesday, August 14, at 10 a.m. at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Philadelphia and a reception to follow at 12 p.m. at Wyndham Alumnae House on campus.